EDIT: original video went away due to a copyright claim from Sony. Bizarre. I know Sony is very controlling and often makes batshit crazy decisions, but surely they don’t hold the copyright over all crazy products resulting from batshit crazy decisions? Anyway, the new link works for now.
Anime recruitment video (actually two of them spliced together I think, hence the seemingly random post-credit rocking astral powers montage at 13:20) for Aum Shinrikyo, the murderous Japanese cult who were in the habit of whacking detractors or defectors and who finally went truly apocalyptic with their random sarin nerve gas attacks in Matsumoto in 1994 and on the Tokyo metro system in 1995. You don’t need to speak Japanese to know that the narrative being presented here is totally mental.
The cult’s founder and leader Shoko Asahara is presented as a doe-eyed, teleporting (at 11:00 apparently to Ginza for shopping, where he’s bothered by his adoring followers but ignores them), astrally-projecting cross between Buddha and an American fundamentalist-style Fightin’ Jesus. It seems this is more or less how he really saw himself. In reality he was a standard issue podgy, shark-eyed psychopath who- as is usual with such losers- deluded himself that his failure in the world was the fault of Jews, Freemasons and a conspiracy of pretty much everyone except the person with whom the blame really lay: himself.
Aum also practised extortion by accepting sick or injured patients into the hospitals it ran, then handing them massive bills: this practice is referenced in the video: the apologetic, humbled woman who receives a phone call from Asahara appears to be working in one of these hospitals. Following the Tokyo attacks, police raids found a Bond Villain Secret Base near Mount Fuji that would be laughable if it hadn’t been so horribly real: LSD and meth labs, dissenting cult members held in cells like something out of every bad action movie, a military helicopter, hoards of chemical and biological weapons including Anthrax and Ebola. The LSD was apparently used for so-called “yoga” sessions that were more like physical and psychological torture, which probably explains all the flying out through walls or melting into the floor nonsense in their videos.
Asahara and several other leading members were sentenced to death for their part in the Sarin attacks and various other bombings and murders, although Asahara is apparently still waiting for his execution to take place. The cult still exists although it rebranded itself (for obvious reasons) after 2000 as “Aleph”. Haruki Murakami’s book ‘Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche’ gives an excellent and unashamedly subjective account of Aum and its murderous activities, mainly by focusing on its victims, escapees and survivors rather than wasting too much sympathy on the perpetrators. In fact it’s the only book of Murakami’s that I’ve gone through eagerly and would read again. I’ve never made it more than 30 or 40 pages through any of his fiction, which always seems like walking waist-deep through glue, just too much hard work.
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